- Associated Press - Friday, May 27, 2016

QUITMAN, Miss. (AP) - An historic wooden bridge spanning the Chunky River in Clarke County is getting a fresh coat of paint Saturday because of recent vandalism.

The Meridian Star reports (https://bit.ly/1TEPEnJ) volunteers with the East Mississippi Foothills Land Trust will apply a new coat of paint to Stuckey’s Bridge to remove graffiti from the span. Work will begin at 10 a.m.

The bridge was originally built as the main route across the Chunky River southwest of Meridian. Documents show the bridge was built around 1850. A new bridge replaced the old one in 1901. It was listed as a Mississippi Landmark on Aug. 4, 1984, and was added to the National Register of Historic Places on Nov. 16, 1988.

Local legend says the bridge got its name from Stuckey, a member of the outlaw Dalton Gang, who owned a nearby inn where he would rob and murder guests and bury the victims on the riverbank. After killing 20 people, Stuckey was caught and hanged from the newly constructed bridge.

There also are rumors that the bridge is haunted, with alleged sightings of an old man carrying a lantern along the river’s edge, loud splashes that supposedly represent Stuckey’s body hitting the water after the noose was cut and visions of his corpse.

“Landowners who live near the bridge caught some people with gallons of paint and then ran off into the woods,” EMFLT intern Memory Morris said. “People who live near the bridge despise how the bridge is looking right now with all the vulgar words and other vandalism on it. I think it has been there for a couple of years now, but it has gotten bad over the last couple of months.”

Morris said the hope is to return the structure to its natural beauty.

“We’re trying to get the bridge’s good, historical feel back to it by painting it one solid color,” Morris said. “We want visitors to be able to enjoy the bridge again.”

The organization usually removes trash and debris from area rivers and streams.

Morris said the bridge is a worthy special project. “We normally do the trash pickup, but extended the mission this year to paint the bridge and restore its historical meaning,” Morris said. “The Land Trust’s mission is to preserve ecological areas.”

Morris said volunteer painters will be supplied fresh water, along with a light lunch after the job is completed. To volunteer, contact Morris at 601-480-8162 or via email at [email protected]

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Information from: The Meridian Star, https://www.meridianstar.com

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